Friday, 25 July 2014

Beating like a drum

Hello there bears, or, since I'm in Glasgow, "Well, herro rer bears," and I have an earworm - you know, one of those tunes you can't get out of your head.

OnWednesday night we had a great time and we ended up singing singing - "Oh the rhythm of my heart is besting like a drum, with... "Enough, enough, it's driving me crazy too.

Ahem, well anyway, himself, Katy and I went to tropical Celtic Park for the Opening Ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow. Did I say tropical - I could have taken off my fur it was sooo hot.

When we finally got through security - I was x-rayed again one of these times I'll just glow - we took our seats in the shade - we hoped.

Shade, what shade? I sat there sweltering in me fur, and he sat there melting in his kilt. So we just went down below the stands so he could get a beer and we could cool off.  Phew, I could have done with Sebastian's snow I can tell you.
 We looked on the set and there was an arch thingy. Can you guess what it is?
 And these are Tunnock's tea cakes, a Scottish speciality and I think all bears would love the chocolate and marshmallow filling.  These were big enough for humins to wear. I bet they were tasty.
 This is a warm up band of pipers and drummers. "WARM UP," I said when he explained. "WARM UP.  I'm fair biling* so I am.  I need a cool doon act."  But it wasn't to happen. We just sat and baked until the sun went down, when it became merely hot.
*To explain, he's gone all Scottish again. Fair biling can loosely be translated as Hot, Damned Hot as in, Good Morning Vietnam.
Ahem professor Higgins can we get on?
 After we'd been warmed up sufficiently it was time to find out what that arch was. Wellll!! it was Nessy, who come all the way down from the highlands to show us she does exist.  Do you like her scarf - she didn't need it on Wednesday I can tell you.
 This big screen was over 100yds long and 36ft high-- tuge it was, T-uge, and there were doors in it too.  Here it's showing what the Scots invented.
 Then Rod Stewart appeared - he's the we dot in the silver suit - and he sang, "Oh the rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum.." SHUT UP.
 Shortly afterwards Her Maj turned up in her (air-conditioned I bet) posh car. She waved regally as she passed and everyone cheered and sang the national anthem.
 Just as she arrived the Red Arrows flew over painting the sky red, white and blue.  The next couple of pictures are of some of the athletes.

 The guys above were dancing including the ones in the wheelchairs. They were having great fun and so were we.  We clapped and cheered and shouted "Come on in" when each team was announced.
 I liked the way everyone went red. I think it must have been the sun, but he says it's just the lighting.
 Here's his and Katy's team from Nor'n Ir'n (that's Northern Ireland, Jock. Norn Irn may be the way we say it, but the longer version is correct).
 Hip, hip, hooray, here's my team SCOTLAND, and of course it's Ann's team too.  Oh how I cheered, and they did too.
 Once all the athletes were in Mr Stewart came back - "Oh the.." SHHHH. He didn't sing that but just saying his name puts it back into my noggin.
 Throughout the night we'd been talked to by nice people from UNICEF and so at this point the humans were invited to text a donation and then switch on their phone torches. All the wee pinpoints of light are the torches. They've raised £2.5m with help from the telly audience.
Finally it was all over, but we were all sent home to our (very late) beds with a volley of fireworks.

Until next time.



Monday, 14 July 2014

Va, Va Vroom!!!!! Part 2 - Zoom zoom machines and other bears

Searching for friends

So this was our campsite when the sun was shining - you don't get to see it when the sun wasn't. On Friday night we heard and saw some of the vroom vroom machines playing practising on the circuit and Himself used the time to sort out where he could get some pictures from. (Some,  some, did I say? 1800 in three days!)

 I thought I would be unique, but when we walked around there were several bears. This is the Lotus bear in an old ambulance painted up as a Formula 1 John Player Special Lotus support vehicle. We waved at each other, but he wasn't allowed out.
On Saturday morning we got all poshified to go into the paddock so the humins could ooh and aah at the cars. On the way we passed a little Austin Healey Sprite with a very contented looking co-driver. He sat there looking out happily, wearing his googles (goggles, bear, goggles). If I wants to call them googles it's up to me 'cos it's my blog - OK (Sigh - Whatever)

Pillocks In the Paddock

While we wandered around inside the circuit we came across these two old geezers (Hey, that's Ian that invited you on the right, and Tony who brought your tent and most of the beer!) As I say we met these two old geezers and had to sit down for a coffee, though Tony said it was only alright.
Ian thinks he'd make a good racing driver. Snigger, what, like he was Britain's next skiing sensation. (What's got into you? Maybe falling off your skis at 70 isn't sensible, but he did drive us all that way and shared the tent with you.) Sorry, I couldn't resist, I'll be kind to him.
This is a pretty little Triumph Spitfire from 1964. I like the very red nose.
This is an Aston Martin DB3 from 1952, that makes it as old as the Staff. It belongs to one of Tony's friends and he was racing it, except when we looked into the car there was no seat and no gearbox. Apparently the old one broke and he had to borrow another one. Hey Alan, does that mean when your gearbox breaks we can ask someone for a spare?  No Jock, humans don't work like that, though with the number of artificial hips and knees, pacemakers and stents out there, maybe you're right in a sort of a way. So far I'm alright. I'll just keep cycling and dancing, but not at the same time.
Still, I managed to sit on the shiny shiny bonnet. Do you like my deflection? I am upside down in it. (That's reflection). Is it? Oh well deflection, reflection they're almost the same. And, to repeat your comment, Whatever.


There were very complicated rules for the racing. First everyone was split into six "Grids" each covering a number of years.  This Bentley was in Grid 1 (1923 to 1939). Everyone got three one hour races spread over 24 hours so everybody had to drive at night, but they also got to race during the day. Even within the grids there were different classes so the little Bugattis weren't racing the huge Bentleys. Well they were, but they weren't if you know what I mean. No? Neither do I.
As evening drew in Grid 4 (1962-65) whizzed around in the gathering gloom. This is an early Ford GT40.
Grid 5 (1966-71) had this amazing Porsche 917, one of Alan's favourites with a flat 12 engine!
The night racing was mostly fun. We went into the stands and watched from under the covers out of the rain.  Can you see the paper bag behind my head?  That was filled with doughnuttie wormy things that we very tasty, and just what a bear needed (As well as the occasional nip of whisky from a hip flask.) Well, yes they did help though I found after a while that there were two racing tracks and I'll swear that some of the headlights rotated.
Next morning we went to see Grid 3 (1957-61) and two cars came into the last bend on the last lap with the big Aston Martin trying to pass the ickle Lotus.
They appeared from behind the screen and the Aston was trying to race backwards, and then sideways and finally forwards again. It didn't work and he got passed by a D-Type Jaguar and came third.
Grid 4 cars were having lots of fun. Just under the bridge is that little Triumph Spitfire racing the Fords GT40 - but not very well.
Grid 6 - the most modern cars from 1972 -79 - were very very noisy but also very fast indeed.

Time to pack up

Soon it was all over except for the party where people helped to drink our beer, but left us the dregs of a bottle of Jameson.
As the campsite emptied there were fewer and fewer cars and we went over to drool over this Aston Martin V12 Vantage and there in the car was its rightful owner - Angus the Bear. I made short work of meeting him.

Look - He got to go on the piste, a bit like us really, I mean 17 pints each, and we didn't need a ticket.  (No, no, no, it means he got to drive around the track with his staff. Oh, I see, that must have been fun.
Before we finally set off I thought I'd try to be the bonnet mascot, but himself reckoned I'd blow off.
Here we are again - notice that we were leaving and the rain had stopped.
Our last Normandy site was the Merville Battery, a very famous battle where 150 British Paratroops overcame 200 Germans manning the battery.  That plane is like the one the came in.

The worlds most valuable ferry

It was only a few minutes drive to the ferry port where we lined up with everyone else.
Did I say everyone?  Some of the cars were priceless. That Bentley was racing and we had passed it on the Autoroute.
Here we are parked up. To the left is an old Mustang, then a BMW, a Triumph TR5 and behind is a Shelby Cobra, not a replica.
Onboard ship and we were surrounded by millions of pounds worth of cars, a couple of bikers gobsmacked by what they saw, but no, definitely no commercial vehicles.  Soon enough we sailed and then drove through the dark in England until we were back at Ian's. Our great big adventure all over. Everybear say, "Aah."

Till the next time,



Sunday, 13 July 2014

Va, Va, VROOM!!!!!!! Part 1 - Getting there.

Hiyo everybear,

What tocitement, I've been off playing with cars and meeting new peeps and bears (well I only got to meet one bear, but I saw several).

A great idea

It all started with a phone call in January when the staff's brother Ian rang up and said, "Hi Jock, how d'you fancy coming with me in my E-Type to the Classic Le Mans races?"
"Great idea. Will there be beer?"
"Oh, I expect so, just a bit." It turns out that because of a logistics foul-up we got 4 flagons of beer and I had to help them to drink 17 pints each in the 3 days we were at Le Mans itself .  At this point I must interject to say we didn't quite manage it even with some help from random campers. Thank goodness it tasked good and wasn't too strong.
Whatever, I said, "That sounds good, and can I bring the Staff to carry the cases and the cameras."
"Oh, I suppose so," said Ian, "If you must. He can keep us amused, bring the tent, and supply the
wine gums."

Let's get going

 Cut to early July and we're at Toad Hall, Ian's house, and I finally get to try out the E-Type while the mugs staff squeeze everything into the car.  I tried out several positions to see where I'd get the best view. Behind the windscreen seemed good.
 On the other hand sitting on the boot mean I could see behind me and thumb my nose wave at all the cars we passed.
Alternatively, sitting on the sun visor gave the best view, but the staff pointed out that it would be a tad windy and maybe I'd get squished if they had to put the roof up. So I contented myself with sitting behind the screen as you'll see.
So, we climbed aboard, himself learning quickly how to fold himself into the passenger seat, but I don't know what he was fussing about. I just jumped in and sat down.
Ian started the car.  First there was a whirring sound that got higher pitched as it went along and then vroom, VROOM, burble, burble, and we were ready to go. We got some petrol and set off to meet our travelling companions at Portsmouth, where we went on the ferry. Here I am sitting on the fence (unusual for you to be uncommitted bear.) No, stupid, I mean really sitting on the fence, while the capting started the engines.

When we got to the other side, I hid 'cos I hadn't brought my passport, but we were safely delivered to our hotel in Ouistreham. Here I got to see the other special cars in the group. First it was Damon's Volvo Amazon, that he and his Dad race up hills.  I looked and looked but I couldn't see any lady warriors, but it did make quite a noise when it got going.

Here I are with Phil's TVR Chimaera. It has a very very Vroomie engine. When we were following it it was noisier than the Jag.

There was a big Peugeot estate that was boring so I didn't bother with that. It was useful bear because it carried the tents and the beer. True, but boring.

The Normandy Landing Sites

 We had a spare day and a half before went to Le Mans, days added on so we could go and see the Normandy Landing Beaches and stuff. It's is really lovely zooming along with the hood down and the sun out, looking along the very long bonnet of the E-Type and getting the wind in your fur.
 This is the museum at Ste Mere Eglise.  This is where the brave American paratroops landed (but without a tank). Can you see the man dangling on the church tower?  I asked Alan if he'd been there 70 years and he laughed.  No, he was there for six hours and he managed to survive until he could be rescued. He was the battalion barber!
 Next we went to the battery at Azeville and it was huge, with tunnels and places for gun to stick out. One of the gun emplacements is now the office, and you can see it behind me.  Places like this made it awfully dangerous for the soldiers trying to land.

 At Pointe du Hoc the US Rangers climbed the cliffs to stop the guns firing on Omaha Beach.  What courageous men they were. All around in the limestone are huge shell craters. It must have been terrible place to be on 6th June 1944.
 At Arromanches, it all looks so peaceful on a sunny calm day, but in 1944 this was one of the British Beaches and afterwards the site of a Mulberry Harbour, and  lot of it is still there for us to see.
 When we'd see'd was was to be seen I thought, "I can't go to the beech without playing in the sand." So I did, as you do.
  Next morning we went to the control bunker at Ouistreham and then on to Pegasus Bridge.

 We were lucky enough to see the new bridge in action.
 This was the first place to be liberated in France in 1944 when British Airborne troops stormed it after landing their gliders on what looked like postage stamps to me.  You can see just how close Major Howard and his troops were to the bridge. The first German to see them is still alive. He said that as soon as he saw the British soldiers he lit a flare and ran away - sensible man.
Here I am sitting on the end of the old bridge.The museum there is also fascinating and sad too, reading the stories of the men who survived and those that didn't. Unless the British, US, Canadian and French soldiers, sailors and airmen hadn't been so brave and persevering we dread to think what our world would have become.

Off to the main event.

After lunch we headed south for Le Mans, with me in my customary position.  While it was sunny it was very nice, but we got some nasty showers and the windscreen wipers were going swish, swish, swish and it got a bit hard to see out. The staff got the co-pilot's job of mopping up the rain that go in under the hood.
Never mind, we soon arrived on our campsite. Here I are sitting on top of our tent after the Staff and Ian had put it up. We slept on sleeping mats, but the humins weren't too happy with that. (They're old, old and they couldn't help it.) Here, watch it you.  What do you mean? I are 2 and you are 62, and Ian is even OLDER. So you're both old, old. See!
 Anyway, once the tent was up a beer was called for - it's thirsty work directing operations you know.

Come back later this week and you'll get all the fun of the racing.